Meeting on World Summit on Information Society

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The Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY), Ministry of Communication & IT in collaboration with National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) conducted a multi-stakeholder consultation under Internet Governance to discuss the priorities and concerns of Indian stakeholder in relation to the ongoing overall review by the General Assembly of the implementation of the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS+10 Review).

India wants democratisation and broad-basing of the global affairs of telecommunications and internet governance. This was the main message taken forward by the Minister for Communications and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad while he led the Indian delegation to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Conference held at Busan in South Korea in last October.

India’s point is that ITU should take leadership and partner with UN and other International/Regional organizations in executing the Information and Communication Technology projects and programs in developing countries.

India also wants the ITU to be the supervisory authority of Space Assets. India expressed its desire that ITU should play a more active role in the global Internet governance as envisaged during the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS).

Recently, India has declared its commitment towards multi-stakeholder approach to Internet governance.

The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) was a pair of United Nations-sponsored conferences about information, communication and, in broad terms, the information society that took place in 2003 in Geneva and in 2005 in Tunis.

One of its chief aims was to bridge the so-called global digital divide separating rich countries from poor countries by spreading access to the Internet in the developing world.

The conferences established 17 May as World Information Society Day.

The recent meeting on this issue was held in New Delhi on 18th September, 2015. There has also been remote participation from Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC) and Learning Initiatives on Reforms for Network Economics Asia (LIRNEasia) in these meetings.

The entire Review process will be concluded by a High-level meeting of the UN General Assembly on December 15-16, 2015 in New York.

Currently, the United Nations is facilitating a preparatory process for the WSIS+10 Review in consultation with Member States and relevant stakeholders.

Why a Summit on the Information Society:

The Digital Revolution: The digital revolution, fired by the engines of Information and Communication Technologies, has fundamentally changed the way people think, behave, communicate, work and earn their livelihood. It has forged new ways to create knowledge, educate people and disseminate information. It has restructured the way the world conducts economic and business practices, runs governments and engages politically. It has provided for the speedy delivery of humanitarian aid and healthcare, and a new vision for environmental protection. It has even created new avenues for entertainment and leisure. As access to information and knowledge is a prerequisite to achieving the Millennium Development Goals – or MDGs -, it has the capacity to improve living standards for millions of people around the world. Moreover, better communication between peoples helps resolve conflicts and attain world peace.

The Digital Divide: Paradoxically, while the digital revolution has extended the frontiers of the global village, the vast majority of the world remains unhooked from this unfolding phenomenon. With the ever-widening gulf between knowledge and ignorance, the development gap between the rich and the poor among and within countries has also increased. It has therefore become imperative for the world to bridge this digital divide and place the MDGs on the ICT-accelerated speedway to achievement.

World Summit – The Need for a Global Discussion

Recognizing that this new dynamic requires global discussion, the International Telecommunication Union, following a proposal by the Government of Tunisia, resolved at its Plenipotentiary Conference in Minneapolis in 1998 (Resolution 73) to hold a World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and place it on the agenda of the United Nations.

In 2001, the ITU Council decided to hold the Summit in two phases, the first from 10 to 12 December 2003, in Geneva, and the second from 16 to 18 November 2005 in Tunis. This was endorsed by the UN General Assembly (Resolution 56/183) while according the lead role to ITU in cooperation with other interested organizations and partners.

It further recommended that preparations for the Summit take place through an open-ended intergovernmental Preparatory Committee – or PrepCom – that would define the agenda of the Summit, decide on the modalities of the participation of other stakeholders, and finalize both the draft Declaration of Principles and the draft Plan of Action.

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